New Delhi: No restrictions have been placed on the Dalai Lama in the wake of rising tensions along Indo-China
border, the Centre clarified. The assertion came in response to reports that said that senior
government functionaries had been asked to “skip” year-long events organised by the exiled Tibetan
government as part of its ‘Thank you India” campaign to mark the 60th year of the arrival of the
Tibetan spiritual leader.
The Ministry of External Affairs denied there has been any change in India’s position on Tibet and that the
Dalai Lama was free to travel and attend programmes across the country. “He [Dalai Lama] is a
revered religious leader and is deeply respected by the people of India. There is no change in that position
. His Holiness is accorded all freedom to carry out his religious activities in India,” said
MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
Earlier, media reports had quoted a note sent by the cabinet secretary on the advice of Foreign
Secretary Vijay Gokhale to ask ministers and officials to skip Tibetan functions, lest they raise hackles
in Beijing. Gokhale had particularly mentioned ‘Thank You India’, said the reports.
The spokesperson, however, didn’t mention the note or the advice to the government.
Experts have described India’s stand as “unfortunate”. Brahma Chellaney, professor of strategic studies
at the Delhi-based think tank Centre for Policy Research said the MEA was silent when China breached
two bilateral MoUs to share upstream data on Brahmaputra and Sutlej or its cutting off Indian pilgrims’
access to two sacred sites in Tibet. “And now this, when India should be doing the opposite,” he
On Thursday, junior minister of defense Subhash Bhamre predicted escalation along China border. “At the
The line of Actual Control, the situation is sensitive as incidents of patrolling, transgression and
standoffs have a potential for escalation.”
It is believed that Gokhale’s advice to the government was aimed to avoid any such escalation and to mend
fences with China. His advice had come last month a day before went to Beijing to hold talks with
China’s Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou, Foreign Minister Wang and State Councillor Yang Jiech.
Gokhale’s visit came close to the exiled government of Tibet announcing the year-long campaign. “It was
in exile that he [the Dalai Lama] found freedom thanks to the compassionate underpinning of the
hospitality and generosity extended by India and such virtuous offerings have set the foundations for
the noble, benevolent and magnanimous work he continues to do for the world at large,” Dr. Lobsang
Sangay, president of Central Tibetan Administration, organiser of the programme.
As many as 60 Indians from Arunachal Pradesh, where from Dalai Lama entered India on March 31, 1959,
will kick-start a peace march on March 17 to signify the date. The march will culminate in Delhi on
March 31. “With the blessings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and under the leadership of the Central
Tibetan Administration, Tibetan people across India will observe the year 2018 with a series of Pan-
India events spanning 12 months both on the physical and virtual space to publicly express gratitude to the
Government and people of India,” said the officials of Tibetan exiled government. Other programme
included the week-long event in Delhi (March 31 – April 7, 2018), similar events will be organized in
Bangalore, Shimla and in 20 different cities across India.
Information Secretary of exiled government Dhardon Sharling told DNA that an interfaith prayer meeting of
leaders of different religious faith on March 31 at Rajghat will mark the year-long Thank you India campaign
. “This will be followed by a high-level public event at Thyagaraj Stadium on April 1. The
event was expected to feature public addresses by Indian dignitaries and Tibetan cultural performances.